277. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Powell) to President Reagan1


  • START Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Our draft START Treaty calls for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) listing facilities subject to the treaty and three protocols: Conversion or Elimination, Inspections, and Throwweight. In Moscow Secretary Shultz and his Soviet counterpart agreed that both sides would [Page 1241] expedite work on the protocols and the MOU. We agreed to table our outline of the MOU within a week.

Based on an interagency submitted draft, I have approved the outline MOU for tabling. The draft includes no actual data, simply the structure. I resolved two minor wording issues in approving it.

The draft MOU is 87 pages long and is simply a list of definitions and categories of facilities for which information will be exchanged. I do not believe you need to review it. You should, however, be aware that after we returned from Moscow the Joint Chiefs of Staff raised a last-minute objection to tabling the MOU. The JCS are concerned with “uncertainties of how the data provided in the MOU will interrelate with requirements specified in the Joint Draft Text and Inspection Protocol.” They fear the MOU could commit the U.S. to “an intrusive inspection regime and capture of facilities and equipment not intended for inclusion as treaty limited items.” They suggest further study before tabling the MOU.

The JCS unease is symptomatic of their more general concern that, in an area as complex as START, tabling one portion of our position while other portions are under development could trap us into obligations we do not intend to assume. While I am sympathetic with the JCS, I do not believe the MOU seriously prejudices our future options. The specific JCS concern is a recognized inconsistency between the treaty text tabled last year and the current MOU. We will take steps to resolve this inconsistency. I have, therefore, authorized tabling the MOU2 despite the JCS concerns. I wanted to make certain you were aware of the Chiefs’ unease.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Linhard Files, START Treaty—MOU—February 24, 1988. Secret. Sent for information. Prepared by Brooks. Copied to Bush and Howard Baker. A stamped notation indicates the President saw the memorandum on February 29. Reagan initialed the memorandum in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. In telegram 2275 from NST Geneva, March 2, the Delegation reported: “On March 2 the U.S. tabled its 130 page draft Memorandum of Understanding for the START Treaty. This follows the tabling of the U.S. Draft Protocol on Conversion or Elimination in October 1987 and the U.S. Draft Protocol regarding Inspection and Monitoring in early February this year. The Soviet side has not tabled its own version of any these documents and refuses to agree to special working groups on these documents until it does so.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D880687–0559) (LOU)